Manchester United have attempted to downplay Robin van Persie's return to first-team training ahead of the Manchester derby after nearly seven weeks out with an ankle problem.

Van Persie last played in the 2-1 defeat at Swansea City and has missed the club's five-match winning run that has helped cement a place in next season's Champions League ahead of the sharp end of the campaign.

Victory over Aston Villa, coupled with City's loss at Crystal Palace, sees United above their local rivals for the first time this season ahead of the derby on 12 April, with manager Louis van Gaal's side targeting a finish above the Premier League champions.

Van Persie confirmed on Twitter that he has resumed first-team training in the week of the game but United have endeavoured to pour cold water on the revelation by stressing there will be no further update until Van Gaal gives his weekly press conference before the game.

After close to two months out through injury, Van Persie is unlikely to return from the start for the visit of City but news that he has stepped up his recovery from a long-running ankle injury is positive news ahead of the final weeks of the campaign.

After hosting City, United travel to Chelsea, Everton, Crystal Palace and Hull City on the final day, matches entwined with home games against West Bromwich Albion and Van Persie's former club, Arsenal.

United will be out to end a four-game losing run in the league against a City side who will be licking their wounds after seeing their title hopes dashed at Selhurst Park and captain Wayne Rooney says the clash is all about pride.

"I think it's a very important game for Manchester United and Manchester City... for the fans and, for me, it's a massive game of pride," Rooney told the club's official website. "You play for Man United, you want to win these derby games.

"We want to give United fans something to smile about when they go to work on Monday morning, we want them to be the ones to be able to give out the banter to Manchester City fans at work."